By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
In a time still dominated by the coronavirus, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi lifted spirits — again — by delivering valentines to 30 married couples of 50 years and more during the city’s 32nd annual Valentine’s Day event Friday.
First Avenue residents William and Dorothy McCarthy, who have been married for 72 years, were among the West Haven couples honored by Rossi three days before Valentine’s Day.
During the pandemic-safe celebration, Rossi drove to each home and gave each couple a blue tote bag emblazoned with a white West Haven seal and filled with congratulatory gifts.
For three decades, the city had recognized those sweethearts who reached the half-century mark and beyond with a Valentine’s Day party featuring entertainment, dancing and refreshments.
But like last year, this year was different because of COVID-19. Pandemic or not, Rossi was once again determined to keep the city’s Valentine’s Day tradition going.
Without skipping a beat, Rossi, with help from the Department of Elderly Services, planned an alternative event that celebrated the holiday of love from the safety of couples’ homes — all the while playing Cupid and delivering gift bags to the happy couples in an otherwise trying time.
“The City with a Heart” tote bags were donated by Westies Win, a nonprofit fundraising group, and were assembled by the University of New Haven Mayor’s Advisory Commission, a collaborative, student-driven task force founded in 2015 to strengthen town-gown relations.
Each insulated bag contained a red rose, a bottle of sparkling wine, a salami and provolone snack pack, and a centennial coin, lapel pin and decal. Each bag also included two bottles of bug spray, face masks and two bottles of hand sanitizer donated by the Health Department, along with valentines made by Girl Scout Troop 60298 and snacks donated by the Democratic and Republican town committees.
Rossi also presented the McCarthys, the event’s oldest married couple, and the youngest couple, Savin Avenue residents David and Deborah Latella, 50 years, with a bottle of sparkling wine and a gift-wrapped pendant necklace courtesy of Leslie Jewelers.